Dear diary, blog, friends and strangers on the internet. A few days ago, I let myself down. I know that I’m being way overdramatic, but to me, that’s one of the worst things I can do. I’m not talking about being weak and eating chocolate or buying soda when I shouldn’t have – did that to, couldn’t care less, I’ll sweat it out later. (Writing is good exercise anyway, right?) – I’m talking about betraying what I thought made me, me. Does that make sense to any of you? I suppose I learned something valuable at the same time: that the only, and I mean only, person who can hurt my feelings and let me down is myself. And you know what? I’m pretty sure that goes for most of you. Even when other people are at the heart of the problem, it’s me I’ve gotta live with afterwards. I’ll get right to it, and stop beating around the bush here:
I was heading home from the store, minding my own beeswax as usual, when someone stopped me. I instantly realized it was a recruiter for some sort of charity – it always is when it’s a pretty young person. (Not why I stopped, she was between me and the exit.) I was in a hurry, but stopped to be polite, and she started asking me all these questions. I replied, she gave me a pin from the charity, and took my name down to ‘send me updates in the future’. Next thing I know, I’d said yes to giving X amount of money for the rest of my life and all that jazz. (At this point, I even remembered thinking that I’d just stop the payments as soon as they showed up in my bank-account.) Between every piece of information she took down, she assured me that she’d let me go on my merry way soon, and that no money would leave without my consent and such. (Which at that point I was pretty sure I’d already given . . . so yeah.)
Needless to say, when I left for my car 15 minutes later I was furious. Here, I’d stopped to be polite, instead of just shouldering past her to the exit (these people are just doing their job, after all), and been ‘conned’ out of my hard earned money. I was mostly angry with myself, for being such a passive twat. I could’ve told this person anything, ranging from ‘no, thank you!‘ to ‘fuck the fuck off!‘. I could’ve just left, for Christ’s sake! The door was two inches to my right. I could’ve literally just stepped away into the cold parking lot and be done with the whole thing. Sure enough, she used every trick in the book. ‘This won’t take but a minute! Help those who can’t help themselves. Have a heart, it’s Christmas! No money until you decide so for yourself!’ But that’s not an excuse for me – I still could’ve said no, or just left. It’s so easy to just blame those assholes, because they’re lined up between you and the exit, they come at you when you’re tired and on your way home, they attack your compassion and guilt you into listening. But in the end, who the hell is responsible for you? That’s yourself, my dear friend. And if you’re powerless against these kinds of people, no matter how many excuses you conjure up in your mind, Noman only knows what else you’re powerless against. I’ve used this quote before, but it’s just so goddamn fitting:
If you tolerate this, then your children will be next – Manic Street Preachers.
The moral of this story is that you always need to speak your mind. Always! Like I mentioned above; I’ve actually learned that other people can’t hurt me, for the most part. Be mean, be an asshole, be whatever, and that won’t affect me. What does affect me greatly is when I handle it in a shitty way and have to live with myself for the rest of my life. And do you know what shitty way that is, most of the time? Not speaking my damn mind! It’s never (seriously, not even once!) that I was mean or harsh or acted like an asshole back, it’s always that I didn’t. I’ve allowed someone to roll over me, and now I feel like a piece of shit because I was steamrolled without even a word. If you’re anything like me, then you’ll mentally prepare yourself for these situations, and you’ll be way to extreme, because in your head, you’ve demonized these people. When they greet you nicely, you’re taken aback and all your tough-guy shenanigans fall away. The only way to counter every single salesperson and general asshole is to speak your goddamn mind! And if that fails – which it won’t, because 80% of the time, it works every time! – you can always just . . .
I’m Robert Bishop, and I’m a passive-agressive coward! I write a tough game, and I look tough I guess, kinda, I don’t know . . . but on the inside I’m just pure marshmallow.
FYI: The organisation called me up the next day to congratulate me on my ‘awesome choice’ and I promptly told them to take me off all their lists and leave me be. When they asked if the girl on the stand ‘harassed me’ I did the polite thing and told them that ‘no, I’m just an idiot who somehow for some reason thought it would be impolite to say no . . . and instead decided to wait until I started bleeding money to cancel my subscription.’ It happens more than you’d think, I suppose, because the woman on the phone took me off without much bickering.
Speak your mind, fools.
Those kind of encounters did really get to me, too! I hated it. I wanted to do good, help helpless people. However, I am limited in my fundings and I usually feel conned after such an encounter, instead of having helped someone. So, even if I would have signed that whatever charity, it had not satisfied my need to help someone. That’s what made me so furious. Really enraged.
One day one of those poor collectors got to hear all my accumulated rage. Fuck off, was not the worst thing I said. And that was not good either. That evening I had a really bad conciseness, because in the end it is just as you say, they only do their job and I am sure half of them don’t even get paid. I hated to pass any of those collectors at Nordre Gate. I even avoided Midtbyen during high season of those charity collectors. Yes, you always have to speak your mind. But that did not help me. It just made it bad in a different way.
But then, I found a different way to handle those situations. I started to think more like a conman myself. Just put yourself in their point of view. They try to take you off-guard. The first seconds are important to get your attention, then they usually just ran down a pre-memorized interview. If you manage to shake them out of their concept, it can get really funny. Make a game out of. I am sure you have a great imagination how to make this funny. I have used to ask them questions like: “Oh, where did you buy those shoes, they are awesome!” Then they answer you, but suddenly they realize that they lost their game, and they try to get in again. It is really funny to observe this. Now, you are ahead of the game. So wait for their next move, or you can make a move yourself. You should have some moves prepared. One of my moves is that I tell them that I am member of Engineers Without Borders, and I ask if they have heard of it. If not, I tell them something about it, and I even ask them if they want to become a member. And suddenly I am the collector, and they are the victim.
You could tell them that you are a writer. And then ask them if they have heard about your newest book. And maybe they want to buy it? 🙂
It is a really nice game, not only can it be really funny, you can also train your ability with people, you get more aware of those situations when they occur and it gets more difficult to con you. It makes you stronger and more relaxed for those kind of stuff. (Talking about cons, I saw this really great TV series called “White Collar” about a really good conman, I can recommend.)
And yes, I will buy your damn book! I wanted to buy it at your door, however you are empty of books I heard. So I have to order it in the internet. Just trying to get over my extremely high internet shopping wall… 😉
Yeah, I suppose ‘speaking your mind’ can go either way. I can see how it’ll affect you in a negative way when you have it bottled up. I have a feeling it’ll go down the same way with me, actually. Still, I find that it’s better to tell them to ‘fuck off’ in the long run. After all, you’ll never see them again, but if you’re ‘conned’ you’ll end up bleeding money, and feeling like a fool for a long, long time. And even though they’re just doing their job, they know exactly how to get to people. They feed on our insecurities.
For me, I think a simple ‘NO!’ would suffice. Before letting them rope me in at all. If they still persist, tell them; ‘No! That’s final, and now you’re just being rude and intruding my space.’ And if I just keep walking, it’s not like they can follow me indefinitely. But I always fool myself, by thinking I should hear them out, and then politely decline. (Which almost never works, in my case at least.)
Conning them right back is brilliant! I have never thought about that. I have a friend who’s a fucking wizard when it comes to dealing with these people. When Omega supplements were all the rage, he’d ask if they had some pills without the supplement, because it gave him ‘mad diarrhea’ – the salesman was completely stumped! It’s an excellent way to work on ‘people skills’, like you say. Maybe I’ll try that next time. “Don’t you know who I am? Maybe you’ve seen me? No? Isn’t … Isn’t that why you stopped me? To ask about my next book?”
I’ve been meaning to check out White Collar for some time now. I really like Matt Boomer, so it should be fun. Thanks for the recommendation. 🙂
And thank you! I don’t want to tear down any shopping walls though… I do plan on getting another stack, since people keep asking, and it’s nice to have actual physical copies to show them. While I do benefit more from Amazon purchases (sales, charts and so forth), you’re welcome to wait until I get the next shipment. (Although it could be February / March) 😉